Of my many tips to save time and sanity in the kitchen (found here), one of my favorites will always be the slow cooker. There’s something about having dinner done way ahead of time. Something about going for a late afternoon ride, and coming back to dinner being done. It’s not just not having to cook during the crazy witching-hour when everyone’s starving and meltdowns seems inevitable. Somehow, the whole day can seem less stressful, once dinner’s in the slow cooker.
And this week, we’ve got a delicious and perfectly light at night slow cooker option that can be made for meat lovers or vegetarians. It won’t heat up your whole kitchen or house like an oven, because along with the outdoor grill, slow cookers are perfect time-savers this time of year.
Recipe of the Week: “Light at Night” Beef & Broccoli
- 1.5 pounds of Flank Steaks, venison, bison, or elk (local/grass fed if possible)
- Vegetarian: In place of steak, use 1.5 cups lentils + 1.5 cups water (rinsed and picked over well) OR 3 cups of Baby Portabella Mushrooms
- 1 cup organic beef broth
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup real maple or honey
- 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch + 4 Tbsp cold water
Grease the inside of your slow cooker with coconut oil.
Add first 8 ingredients (steaks through chili flakes) to slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, place broccoli in microwave and microwave for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile mix cornstarch and cold water together and stir well. Add broccoli and corn starch mixture to slow cooker and allow to heat on low for last 30 minutes.
Serve with Cauliflower Rice for extra detoxifying nutrient power! You can find my recipe for cauliflower rice here, or check out this new product from Taylor Farms – Ready-Made Cauliflower Pearls!
Comments: Why do I keep harping on eating “light at night?”
You’ve heard it before – there’s no better than the evening, when most activity is done for the day, to load up on vegetables, even double-down on vegetables, and go light on the carbs. Most standard American diets are loaded with processed grains at dinner…right when you no longer need “quick energy” nutrients. As a cyclist, if you’re trying to lose fat or maintain a lean weight, dinner is a great time to reduce calories and carbs (especially processed) ones and eat vegetables instead.
Of course, though, whole-food nutrition is NOT about what you’re giving up or omitting…it’s more about what nourishing whole-foods have in store for you…
Here’s the what and the why of “Light at Night” Beef & Broccoli over Cauliflower Rice:
- Proteins: Organic, grazed, local, or the best quality beef you can get will provide a huge amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. Beyond recovery after riding, protein at dinner can further decrease any muscle wasting, encourage muscle repair and rebuilding, and reducing spikes in blood sugar/insulin. Especially if you’re training earlier in the day, make sure to include protein at dinner. And, if you prefer non-meat protein, lentils are a great choice.
- Healthy Fats: Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is a concentrated source of medium triglycerides, special type of saturated fats that can promote health and energy. Instead of loaded on high omega-6 oils, choose, omega-3 (fish), omega-9s (olive & avocados) or medium chain triglycerides.
- Vegetables: Two of the best – broccoli and cauliflower provide a 1-2-3 detoxifying power punch of nutrients for the body. To read all about why they should be a daily part of an athletes diet, read more here.
- Carbohydrates: Why not grains and other carbohydrates at dinner? While I think it’s fine to include these occasionally, if you’re actively trying to lose fat, keep it to just 2 dinners or so a week. Carbohydrates are simply not needed by the body in the evening if you’re relaxing, and serve only as an extra calorie source. They promote increased insulin levels, which promotes fat storage, especially when they are not readily used (as they would be immediately before, during, or after training). They are often inflammatory in the body, especially if they are refined grains or sugars (refined grains act very similarly to sugars in the body). What’s more, the extra insulin output can interfere with hormones that are released at night and work to promote optimal muscle repair and recovery. Bummer!
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Proactively add carbs back in, around 30 grams or so, when it’s the evening before an extra strenuous or long ride or if it’s immediately after an evening training. Thirty grams of carbs is the equivalent of 2/3 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or beans, 1 large banana, 1 medium sweet potato, 1 cup whole-grain pasta, 1 1/2 cup fruit, 8 oz. chocolate milk, etc.
Prefer to Watch? Here’s my video on Light at Night Dinners on Apex Nutrition TV:
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
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